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Research and development COVID-19

New portfolio to increase access to information about the COVID-19 vaccine

25 January 2021
4 min read

We provide an update on our latest research into people’s experiences of COVID-19 and introduce a new portfolio focused on creating equitable access to trusted information about the vaccines.

Louise Mousseau
Louise Mousseau
Portfolio Director


At the start of the pandemic, we commissioned The Social Innovation Partnership’s (TSIP) Community Researchers to have honest conversations with residents of Lambeth and Southwark, encouraging interviewees to share their stories, thoughts and experiences. This was an open, exploratory study to find out about the impact COVID-19 was having on residents’ lives and to better understand how this evolved over time. Key findings from the first wave of the research can be found here.

The research was focused on people who were most likely to experience health inequalities in Lambeth and Southwark: Black people, people from other minoritised groups, single parents and people in insecure employment.

As we’ve followed these households and families over the last ten months, we’ve seen major themes emerge; from the early impacts of the first lockdown on people’s financial security and mental health, to the trauma of living with the impacts of structural racism in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. More recently, conversations have understandably shifted to the COVID-19 vaccine.


How do residents feel about the vaccine?

There has been much public conversation about vaccine uptake across different demographics in the past week. Our research has showed that whilst uptake is lower in some groups of people, it is understandably more nuanced than a simple yes or no.

What’s emerging is a group of people who are vaccine hesitant – there are neither strongly in favour of taking the vaccine or truly against it. The most consistent theme to emerge in this group is lack of information. Residents have reported that they feel there are still a lot of unanswered questions that need to be addressed before they would be willing to consider being vaccinated. Some of the most common were:

  1. What’s in it and how does it work?
  2. What are the side effects and how likely am I to get them?
  3. How was this vaccine delivered so quickly when there are other diseases that still don’t have a vaccine (Cancer, common cold)?
  4. Can you guarantee that the vaccine will protect me?
  5. Has this vaccine been fully tested – how do we know if there will be long term effects?

Hesitancy to take the vaccines available is driven by rational concerns that are underpinned by a fundamental issue: a lack of access to trusted and evidence-based information in these communities.

Louise Mousseau Portfolio Director

Many people in our study found answers to these questions are readily available through social media and community networks, rather than through official or traditional healthcare networks. They also report trusting these informal sources more than public sector and medical providers for a range of reasons, including concerns about the vested commercial interests of big pharma, experiences of systemic racism and the history of unethical medical experimentation on female and Black bodies.


Why are people so unsure?

This hesitancy to take the vaccines available is driven by rational concerns that are underpinned by a fundamental issue: a lack of access to trusted and evidence-based information in these communities.

That’s why we’re launching a £1m+ portfolio with the aim to improve access to knowledge about the COVID-19 vaccines.  With our partners, TSIP Community Researchers, Clearview Research, Rooted by Design, and Comuzi, we will be leading further research and design to better understand how residents in Lambeth and Southwark want to engage with the science behind the vaccines so that they can make an informed decision as to whether to take one or not.

We are always looking for further partners and collaborators. If you are working on this area and want to share your insights and learning, or hear ours, please contact our Portfolio Manager, Lilian.

I want to give a special thank you to the  Community Researchers for bringing the rich insights that have led us to this work.

Read our initial community research with TSIP

Find out how we're understanding the experiences and perspectives of people more likely to be negatively impacted by COVID-19

Read the study